PH, Vietnam commit to promoting peace and stability in South China Sea

MANILA - The Philippines and Viet Nam assured each other of continued cooperation towards maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea and promoting the importance of the rule of law in addressing maritime disputes in the region.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario met on October 16, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh of Viet Nam at the fringes of Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) 10th Summit, which sees 51 heads of states and governments, ministers and senior officials of 51 Asian and European countries, ASEAN and the European Union converge in the northern Italian city of Milan.

Both officials expressed concern on the escalation of tension in the South China Sea. Both countries will work together to bring the issue to the Leaders of Europe and Asia during the Retreat session slated for today, October 17.  They committed to urge other ASEM partners to support the effective implementation of the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and the expeditious conclusion of the Code of Conduct (COC).

“These activities [referring to unilateral actions in the South China Sea] are in contravention of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and are contrary to the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea”, remarked Secretary del Rosario who represented President Benigno Aquino III in this Asia-Europe Summit held every two years.

The Secretary underscored that the core issue in the dispute is China’s so-called “nine-dash line”  position, an expansive claim of “indisputable sovereignty” over nearly the entire South China Sea. He referred to the EU Council President’s recent encouragement for the Philippines to pursue its maritime disputes with China and defend Philippine position in accordance with the rule of law.

Minister Pham Binh Minh noted that maritime security is mentioned in the ASEM Chair’s Statement despite China’s strong opposition. He commended the Philippine government in actively pursuing the issue in all international fora.

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